Among the different types of birds that people want to keep as pets, cockatoos are very common in countries like Australia. An animal that has very special abilities to live with the human being.

Types of cockatoos

What exactly is a cockatoo?

At first, the English naturalist George Robert Gray was considered a subfamily of the Psittacidae, the parrot family, as a subspecies called Cacatuinae. However, over the years, several experts changed their definition until DNA studies showed that today’s cockatoos separated from parrots centuries ago.

With this, the cockatoos became a separate species from the parrots. Within the cacatuinae there are many species, but there is no clear relationship between each of them and the data do not provide much information that can clarify this relationship.

white cockatoos

However, as it is still considered by many to be a member of the parrot family, this made it an indispensable bird for all lovers of these animals, especially for its beauty and the great company it provides for human beings.

Does a cockatoo have a long life?

Among the cockatoos, the one that has the longest life is the nymph cockatoo that can live up to 25 years if well cared for. This is an average figure, as there are some nymphs that have managed to reach 30 – 40 years of age without problems.

white exotic bird

As for other types of cockatoos, the average life expectancy in captivity is typically 20 years. Interestingly, in the wild, the life expectancy of these animals has been proven to be as high as 50 years, although they have not explained why.

What exactly is a cockatoo like?

Although there are some types of cockatoos that are nothing like the rest of their relatives, there are some subspecies that share some very common characteristics. As a general rule, the size ranges from 30 to 60 centimetres, with a weight of 300 grams in small sizes, while large sizes can easily exceed one kilogram.

posssing white bird

Something that characterizes them is the hair that they have on their heads, called the tuft, which they raise when they pose after the flight or when they feel excited. They have a curved beak and zygodactyl fingers like parrots.

However, they also have some characteristics that help differentiate them from their distant relative, such as having a gall bladder, the absence of Dyck’s texture in their feathers, which is the cause of some parrots having blue and green plumage. They can also be differentiated because the plumage of a cockatoo is less vivid than that of a parrot, the most common color being black, gray or white on feathers, but there are species that have areas with more striking colors, such as yellow, pink or red.

Its potatoes are short with very strong claws and can be moved on foot. As they climb up the branches, they use their beaks as if they were a third leg. In the case of males, the beak is usually slightly larger than the female’s and somewhat more curved. On the other hand, the female tends to have a more muted shade in the color of her feathers compared to the male, which presents much more vivid colors.

What is the behavior of a cockatoo?

Cockatoos are daytime animals that use daylight to find their food. They wait until the sun warms their resting places to feed and are often very social animals among themselves and with other types of birds.

As far as its relationship with humans is concerned, although it has become a very typical animal to have at home, human activity has put an end to the habit of many of the species. On the contrary, some species have taken advantage of this to be able to survive, especially those that feed especially on grains and seeds.

It is not an animal that is at all in conflict with human beings. It can become as affectionate and sticky as an agapornis if the owner is able to earn enough trust. But it is a long process for which the owner will have to use a lot of his time in order to establish a bond. But once you’ve got it, there’s no better pet than a cockatoo.

I want my cockatoo to trust me, what do I have to do?

Like all pets, you can’t wait for the cockatoo to bond from day one, especially when you’re locked in a cage. Once she gets home, she may be a little aggressive and frightened, so it’s best to leave her alone the first day or just walk past her to get used to the presence of her new master.

Once in a while, when passing by the side of the cage, nothing happens if you say something to her, in a quiet and noisy voice, so that she gets used to the new master’s voice. You can tell him your name, or something else that might catch his eye. Getting used to the voice can be a matter of a couple of days, a few hours or a month. It all depends on the character of the cockatoo and how young it is. You’ll know that a bond has finally been forged when the cockatoo approaches the bars of the cage when it hears your voice. If you wish, at this point you can caress his back or neck gently through the bars.

cockatoos with a cat

But, if you want to go a little further, you can start trying to get your hand inside the cage. Again, she is likely to get scared, as it will be something completely new to her. But you can buy it with some knick-knacks that she likes very much, by feeding her by the hand. If he bites you, you don’t have to remove it, because that will make him understand that he has “power” when he attacks you. After a few days, it will let itself be touched and may even sit on your arm.

In a cage or loose in the house?

There are many owners who have a cockatoo that have chosen to raise it freely in the house, giving it a perch as a home, so that the animal can move freely around the house.

Is it wrong to do that? Not at all, but when you have to take the cockatoo to the vet and put it in a cage, it can be very violent when it’s locked up, when it’s usually at liberty.

It is best to get used to the fact that the cage is for sleeping, eating and being transported. This is easy to achieve, since you only have to take it out at certain times to let it move around the house at your leisure.

Don’t worry about harming yourself, as, like macaws, cockatoos often walk around, rarely take flight in enclosed spaces, unless they feel very nervous.

The first time you let her loose, she’ll probably refuse to return to her cage. In this case, it is necessary to avoid at all costs to take it or force it. Don’t give him food outside the cage, so he won’t get used to it. It’s best to eat once you’re back in your cage.

bird looking throught a windows

It is not an animal that is used to carry more with dogs and cats, but it is much better that, if there are such animals in the house, be very careful to let them go free unless they are of a very gentle animal type. It won’t attack them at first glance, but it can be a very mellow animal that could upset the rest of the animals in the house.

We have to buy him a cage, how should it be?

If a cage is to be purchased for a single cockatoo, it must be 60 centimeters high, 50 centimeters wide and 45 centimeters deep. The bars should be no more than 2 cm apart to prevent the cockatoo from sticking its head between the bars.

It is important to avoid at all costs that the cage is made of zinc or lead, poisonous materials for birds. This must be stainless steel. They are animals that like to climb the walls of the cage very much, so they will have to have some horizontal bars. The shape of the cage should not be cylindrical or shed shaped. The best thing is a rectangular cage.

At the base of the cage there should be a skirt, a special cloth that helps to easily remove any food that the animal drops when eating. If it is not found, newspaper can be placed.

cockatoos in the cage

Inside the cage the cockatoo will not feel overwhelmed by having some toys. First of all, the hangers. Plastic or metal ones should be avoided at all costs, as they damage their legs and prevent them from sharpening their claws. The best ones are those of natural branch. As for the toys, you don’t have to fill the whole cage, just two or three and then change them as time goes by so that the animal doesn’t get bored. The best ones are a ladder and some rubber toy for him to bite on.

Your feeder and drinking trough are better on the outside. The motive? Cockatoos may not be as smart as a macaw, but they are just as smart. If they stand on the inside, they will learn over time that there is a possible way out of their cage and try to escape when they are changing the feeder or watering trough. And it is very dangerous when they are of a certain age, because they could get caught up in their attempt to escape.

Cleaning the cage of the cockatoo, what do you need to know?

Cockatoos are a fairly clean animal, so at least twice a week you should clean the base of the cage and about three times a month make a good cleaning of the cage.

To clean the cage, first of all you have to get the cockatoo used to being free around the house or moving it to another cage, a little smaller, but not overwhelming to the animal. Once this is done, the cage should be cleaned in a separate room, so that it is not harmful to the bird.

cockatoos possing

It can be cleaned with bleach diluted in water, cleaning the bars with a brush to remove any trace of toxins or bacteria that may harm the bird. Then just dip it in water and use a dry cloth to leave it clean. It can be left to dry a little in the sun, so that the bird has more time to be free around the house.

I have a problem, where do I place my cockatoo cage?

Typically, cockatoos are animals that live in large houses, but this does not mean that they cannot live in a smaller apartment. Of course, the problem is, where to put the cage?

Well, first of all know that the cage should be in the room of the house where there is more social interaction between family members, such as a living room. Your cage should be located with two of the walls of the cage attached to the wall, which helps the bird know where the owner is coming from and does not scare as easily.

exotic bird in nature

The height should be the same as that of the eyes of the owner, since if it gets lower, the animal may feel intimidated, and if it is higher, feel more powerful. You should not be in an area where the sun shines for many hours in full, nor in areas where there are many drafts, as you could become ill.

What do I feed my cockatoo?

Cockatoos eat mainly seeds and other foods of plant origin. Since she is locked up and cannot go to the trees for food, she must be given fruit. There is no problem with the type, as they enjoy all the fruits that can be found in stores throughout the year, such as bananas, apples or grapes. Nectarine, peach, apricot, pear and strawberry are also very well received, but from time to time. Other fruits that they like very much are tropical fruits such as mangoes, guavas, kiwis or papayas, but these must be given from time to time, because their high fiber content can cause diarrhea. Before giving him any fruit, clean it well and cut it into small pieces, making a mixture so that he can enjoy various types of fruit. But if you don’t have fresh fruit at home, you can offer plums, cranberries or raisins or a little molasses.

bird eating

It is important to give them a good amount of green vegetables, such as romaine lettuce, Chinese cabbage or curly, chard or mustard leaves, as they provide them with many nutrients. The darker the color, the more nutrients they have. Sweet potato and pumpkin are very good because they give you vitamin A, while carrots can give you vitamin C and E. They all have to be boiled and minced a little so that you can eat them well. Always give fresh vegetables, never canned, as they are almost completely lacking in nutrients.

Of course there are some foods to avoid at all costs, such as alcohol or chocolate, which are deadly to the cockatoo. Among the forbidden are eggplant, cabbage, caffeine, milk, cream, potatoes and rhubarb.

I think my cockatoo is sick. What’s wrong with it?

A good owner knows how to detect immediately when his bird is sick. If your cockatoo is a very vivacious animal, it wouldn’t be surprising if it suddenly appeared to be dejected or very nervous. Among the most common diseases of these animals are:

cockatoos in the sand

  • Psittacosis: A very serious disease that can be transmitted to humans. The bird is despondent, shows symptoms of conjunctivitis and eye discharge, and will lose weight because it will stop eating. It can be cured using antibiotics but if not detected early it can be fatal to the animal.
  • Common cold: If you have placed the cage of the cockatoo in a place in your house where there are many drafts, it would not be strange for it to catch a cold. You will sneeze, show a lack of appetite and very difficult breathing. You will need to receive foods rich in vitamin C and also some antibiotics mixed with water. Of course, the location of your cage will have to be changed.
  • Mites: Dangerous parasites that can weaken the bird they attack. They suck the blood out of the bird and reproduce little by little until they are finished with it. They can also be transmitted to humans. The bird will not stop scratching and may even try to tear feathers off somewhere on its body. To get rid of them, you have to use atomizers, but without abusing them.
  • Sour Buche: It is rare, but not impossible. It is an infection that occurs when the bird has not digested any food well and it is lodged in the bird’s crop. This causes a swelling in the crop. It must be an expert veterinarian to unblock the cockatoo’s crop.
  • Feather pulling up: Just because a cockatoo is pulling up feathers doesn’t mean it has mites, but it is a worrying symptom. It is usually a symptom of depression or stress in the animal, such as having lost a cage companion or feeling very lonely. It may also be due to a lack of minerals in the diet. To find out if this is the case, you have to watch if the bird eats the cane from the feather, in which case you have to give it more minerals.
  • Diarrhea: A symptom that may refer to many illnesses, but may also simply mean that you have eaten high-fiber foods. In this case, give a little vitamin B12, about four drops, with the water to see if the diarrhea stops. If it’s not the case, you have to take it to the vet.
  • Ovarian occlusion: A very serious situation that must be treated by a veterinarian. It occurs when an egg gets stuck inside the female and cannot end up laying, which can lead to the death of the bird. Only an experienced veterinarian will be able to help you expel him.

I want my cockatoo to sit on my arm or my finger, what do I have to do?

Of all the tricks that can be taught to a cockatoo, a finger pose is the easiest thing in the world. However, first of all, you’re going to have to earn his trust a little and let him play. Otherwise, the bird will feel uncomfortable and it is very likely to attack you.

bird ill

Once your trust is gained, it’s time to teach you the trick by following a few simple steps:

  • Once the bird is used to being touched, open the cage and reach in. If she is calm while you are approaching her, do it without fear, but if she gets more and more nervous, give up and repeat the procedure until she lets you do it.
  • It’s a process that will take weeks or even months, it all depends on how affectionate the cockatoo is. Every day, for about ten minutes, try to do it, getting closer and closer. It is possible that when you get closer the cockatoo will move away, in which case you know the limit that will allow you to get closer. Knowing this, every day place your finger there, so that the bird can get used to its presence.
  • Little by little, the bird will get used to your hand going into the cage and get closer to it. Once this is achieved, with a little push the bird will feel a little unbalanced and will climb on its finger, because it will see that this is where it finds the support it needs.
  • Once he gets on his finger, he can be shown an order to get used to it, such as “upstairs” and when he does, you can give him a sweater that he likes very much. He may use his beak to get a little stability, so don’t take your hand away, because that might scare him and he might never want to try again.

What else can I teach my cockatoo?

Getting it on your finger is just the beginning and the easiest part of cockatoo training. Now we have to go to the hardest part: to learn other tricks.

A good trick is that she comes to you when you call her, and for that you must use a clicker. It’s a short, distinctive sound that the bird instantly recognizes, which makes it go for that trick. It can be a lip snap or a gentle blow from the bird, which will get your full attention. Once he’s done what you wanted him to do well, like going to meet you, he can be given a treat.

You can teach him other simple tricks, such as getting on a table or sitting on a person’s man, by using the same trick as the clicker and giving him a treat when he does it.

There is good training to help make it easier to take this bird to the vet, and that is to wrap it in a towel. To do this, when you are out of the cage, place a towel under the cockatoo, every day during your training sessions. Slowly, every day, go up the corners of the towel, stopping when you notice that the bird is moving with difficulty. Follow the procedure every day until you can finally cover it with the towel and you can take it to the vet without too much trouble.

Because they are distant relatives of parrots, cockatoos can also learn to speak, but they have to be relaxed and happy to do so. For them to learn, they need to repeat a sentence a few times throughout the day, saying the word frequently. If she can imitate you, she must be rewarded. It is easier for a cockatoo to learn to speak if it is male, since it can imitate more sounds than females and the voice is a little clearer. They can start talking at 8 months of age.

The cockatoo may never learn to speak, but it can learn other tricks like whistling or dancing. To do this, whistle while you are dancing, following a constant rhythm and it is very possible that the bird will end up imitating you. You can also get him used to it when they are listening to a particular song and you start dancing in front of the cage. I’m sure sooner or later the bird will get used to moving its body when it hears that song.

My cockatoo bites me, what do I do?

Although cockatoos are often very sociable animals with humans, it wouldn’t be unusual for them to bite you, especially if you’re trying to get them to sit on your finger or feed them by the hand.

When he bites you inside the cage, do not react with a scream or a painful present, as this encourages the bird to bite again when it sees you trying to reach into his cage. And if you take your hand away, you’re giving it enough authority within it, which can make it almost impossible to correct its behavior.

cockatoos in nature

Once you have been bitten, do not punish the bird, as they do not understand this action. Use a light punishment, such as taking away what he is nibbling so that he understands that he has done something wrong and only give him a reward when he does something right. But don’t yell at him under any circumstances.

As with some animals, such as cats, cockatoos will only allow you to touch their ridge or beak when they are calm. Some birds find this unpleasant, so you’ll need a lot of patience to get them to let you touch it. It is very possible that when they let you do it, it will bite you, so remember not to take your hand away or yell at it.

I want my cockatoo to breed, what do I do?

To begin with, you have to understand that cockatoos, as opposed to other birds, are monogamous animals, so they spend their entire lives with the same partner. From a young age it is better to put the male and the female in the same cage, so that they can establish a bond from a young age.

The cage should be three times the size of a single cage for a single cockatoo and should be protected from any type of predator. Buy a wooden nest, as it makes them feel very comfortable and protected and helps them maintain their privacy.

exotic bird

After consummating the act, they can lay 2 to 5 eggs, the incubation period being about 21 days, although in some species it can be longer. In addition, you will notice that the male and female take turns in the incubation process. When the young are born, they are deaf and blind, so it is the parents who feed them during the first six weeks of life. The offspring must have a soft meal, which will be provided by the parents.

After two months of life, the chicks can be transferred to a cage the size of two cockatoos so that they can start exercising and be able to fend for themselves. If you are going to choose breeding as a way of life, you will need an exclusive module for the chicks. Your cage should not be located in a place where there are drafts or high humidity levels. In addition, it must be well ventilated.